The Farda is back. J Hus (Momodou Jallow) has dropped his long-awaited sophomore album, Big Conspiracy, full of wisdom and reflection.
From the get go we hear a more experienced J Hus. This was to be anticipated after he spent four months in jail, as he was caught in possession of a knife in Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford on June 21st 2018. Fans of Hus will have caught a similar vibe from his Daily Duppy, which was released on April 14th 2019, along with features with Dave, Skepta and Stormzy. You could tell that there was something different about him.
J Hus has always had deep tracks, like Guns and Butter on his The 15th Day mixtape or Who You Are on his debut album, Common Sense, but those projects were overall more tongue in cheek and filled with more bangers. Admittedly, Common Sense did have “grown man riddims” (word to Giggs) but it’s the subject matter on Big Conspiracy that sets it apart.
Less turn up. Less talk about girls. More talk about black empowerment. It feels as if he’s talking from a bird’s eye view. He is the big boss giving game to the youngers, by simply sharing his experience.
This is probably best shown on Deeper Than Rap, which includes a line that sums up his state of mind – “I was fresh from a war but it was internal”. It seems as if he’s trying to learn from his mistakes and has used his time in jail to reflect and push forward – “I look back at my life and I analyse”. The way he talks about himself on this track is so beautiful as there is no reference to ugliness. He in fact says the opposite as “me, [J Hus] I love myself because I’m black and I’m gorgeous”. He’s come a long way from referring to himself as the ugliest. This progression is also well documented on Handsome, in which he is the feature on Stormzy’s album, Heavy is the Head – “heavy duty, don’t hide the beauty”. This progression has gradually been happening even from Common Sense, as he viewed himself as a sex symbol. I must say that there are girls I know who agree with his claim, showing that the way in which you perceive yourself can affect the way in which others see you. But on Big Conspiracy he’s gone a step further to empower black people and the idea that black is beautiful as he also questions why someone would feel the need to bleach their skin. We need to comfortable in ourselves just as he is, despite his mistakes and how the world views him. He is working on Kanka and self-improvement. He really is lifting us.
My second big take away from the album was the how suspicious Hus sounds. He can’t help but be less trusting following previous experiences and this is interestingly conveyed on the title track, Big Conspiracy and on the next track, Helicopter. The way he talks about others is telling, often referring to people who aren’t who they really say they are – “the guy he portrays is not the guy inside him”. This seems to be an affirmation of his own identity. He is who he says he is. The way he talks about police is also very intriguing. He opens Helicopter singing “shaitan in police uniform…I see pigs fly but I never seen a unicorn”. This sounds like a direct reference to his experience with the police and the mutual lack of respect between the two parties. This seems to be a much deeper feeling than the typical rage that rappers have about the police. This feeling is deep rooted. “They enslaved my ancestor, no remorse / I bring knowledge to Europe, just like the Moors”. This shows that Hus has really been studying how he has been treated along with black people in the past, shaping his views today. This makes for a darker experience than what you’d typically expect from a J Hus track. The idea of a Big Conspiracy is also compelling because it again suggests that people are against him or have got the wrong impression. Much of what the mainstream know of Hus is connected to his time in jail so this album is a chance to settle scores. To show that he is a better person. If not for them but for himself.
And let’s not forget the bangers on this thing. Fortune Teller, Reckless and Repeat have all been on repeat. This is more like what you’d typically expect from a J Hus album. But even here the production is more moody than usual. This ensures that they don’t feel out of place and they all tell his story. One which includes women (Fortune Teller), mistakes (Reckless) and blessings (Repeat). No one moment can define him. He is the full package. So, although he can be Reckless and a “daily offender, crazy Eastender”, he is much more than that. This is a man from a boy.
Overall, I love the focus on the music, despite his Twitter antics, which lit up social media late in 2019 and continued into 2020. There have been no music videos, which could be linked to the idea that his hand was potentially forced due to the leak of his album. Regardless, it means that we can take in the music and hear a more focused Hus, which should encourage us to be more focused and try to better ourselves. Stronger today than yesterday.